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ICG Media Release: Indonesia: Averting Election Violence in Aceh  Tapol
 Mar 01, 2012 04:02 PST 

From Joyo


note: for the link to the full PDF report, go to:
http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-east-asia/indonesia/B135-indonesia-averting-election-violence-in-aceh.aspx

International Crisis Group
Jakarta/Brussels
29 February 2012

Indonesia: Averting Election Violence in Aceh

Election monitors should begin deployment to Aceh
long before the 9 April election to deter intimidation

Indonesia: Averting Election Violence in Aceh, the latest briefing
from the International Crisis Group, says the potential for isolated
acts of violence between now and voting day is high and may be higher
after the results are announced if it is a close election.

“Whether violence materialises will depend on several factors,
including the speed with which local election monitors can take up
position in some of the most contested districts, like Bireuen and
Aceh Timur”, says Sidney Jones, Crisis Group Senior Adviser. “It is
also important that the police move quickly to pursue those
responsible for a series of killings in December and January so that
rumours of political motivation can either be laid to rest or
conclusively proven”.

The briefing examines the political and legal manoeuvres used by
Partai Aceh, the political party created by the leadership of the Free
Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM), the former rebel group, to
delay the elections so that its main rival for the governorship, the
incumbent Irwandi Yusuf, also a GAM member, could be forced from
office after the expiration of his five-year term on 8 February 2012.
If the election were to take place after that date, the government
would have to appoint a caretaker, and Irwandi would be denied the
opportunity to use the perks of office to campaign. The elections were
originally scheduled for October 2011, but they were delayed first to
14 November, then to 24 December, then to 16 February and finally to 9
April.

When it seemed as though the postponement until 16 February would be
the last, a series of killings targeting Javanese workers took place,
beginning in early December. Most of these crimes remain unsolved, but
they seemed to some to be aimed at showing that security conditions
were such as to prevent the elections from going forward. There may be
no connection, but once officials in Jakarta agreed to push for a
further delay, the murders stopped, although other forms of violence
continued. The briefing looks at these attacks and notes that the
burden is now on the police to pursue investigations vigorously so
that the perpetrators can be identified and punished.

The election could be close. Partai Aceh has the advantage of a strong
political machine but has fielded a weak candidate for governor in
Zaini Abdullah, GAM’s former “foreign minister”. Former Governor
Irwandi, now replaced by a caretaker, is personally popular,
especially because of a universal health insurance program he
championed and commands the loyalty of many former guerrilla
commanders, but he is standing as an independent and lacks any party
organisational structure. Partai Aceh has shown a willingness to use
fear tactics in a way that could persuade some voters that it is
dangerous not to choose it.

“Getting election monitors to Aceh quickly should be seen as an
investment in peace”, says Jim Della-Giacoma, Crisis Group’s South
East Asia Project Director. “This election is critical to Aceh’s
future”.

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